Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Downton Abbey – The Lost Episode

CARSON: Might I have a word, milord?
LORD GRANTHAM: Can't it wait?
CARSON [looking at wristwatch]:
I'm sorry to bother you, milord,
but it's gone noon, and it appears
that the First World War has just
come to an end.
LORD GRANTHAM: That's marvelous
news, Carson, particularly for our
boys at the front. War is a tiresome
business, particularly when it
leads to bloodshed. A human life
is a precious thing, Carson.
CARSON: Indeed so, milord.
[Prepares to exit.]
LORD GRANTHAM: One moment,
Carson. You mentioned the First
World War. I trust you did not
mean to imply that a second may
be on the way?
CARSON [looking at wristwatch]:
Indeed, milord, I regret to say that
Mr. Churchill has just this minute
announced the commencement
of a Second World War.
LORD GRANTHAM: That's terrible
news, Carson, particularly for our
boys at the front.
barely grown acclimatised to the
First World War-and now they tell
one that a second is on the way!
CARSON: This telegram has just
arrived for you, milord.
[opening telegram]: The
good news, Mother, is that the
Second World War is drawing to a
close. Mr. Churchill himself has
just been good enough to send me
this telegram. He says that Herr
Hitler has committed suicide
In a bunker.
I find that very common!
CARSON: Might I have a word,
LORD GRANTHAM: Can't it wait,
CARSON: This telegram has just
arrived, milord. I considered that
you might wish to apprise yourself
of its contents.
LORD GRANTHAM: You considered
wisely, Carson. [Opens telegram.]
Bad news, I'm afraid, Carson.
I would ask you to assemble
the household staff this minute.
Far better that they should hear
the dreadful news from me.
[Household staff assemble with
anxious looks on their/aces.]
LORD GRANTHAM: Terrible news,
I'm afraid. I know it will come as a
dreadful blow to all of you. I don't
know how to put this b-b-but ... the
Beatles have decided to go their
separate ways.
DAISY: You mean they've split up?!
MRS. HUGHES: Daisy! Mind your
DAISY: Sorry, Mrs. Hughes, I
meant nothing by it! It's the shock!
MRS. PATMORE: There, there,
Daisy. Dry those eyes!
LORD GRANTHAM: It is never
pleasant when a popular
singing combo decides to part
company. That these four
doughty Liverpudlians meet
with considerable success in the
separate careers upon which they
have embarked is the best for
which we can hope.
THOMAS [under his breath]: Not
me. It's Yoko I like.
CARSON: Might I have a word,
LORD GRANTHAM: Can't it wait,
CARSON: Word has
just come through,
milord, that the
British forces have
Successfully recaptured the
Falkland Islands.
I thought you would want to
know, milord.
LORD GRANTHAM: Excellent news,
Carson. In the fullness of time,
it should do much to restore our
national morale.
THOMAS [under his breath]: Not
for me it won't. I was backing
General Galtieri.
CARSON: More coffee, milord?
newspaper]: Thank you, Carson.
[Reflects.] Coffee is a warm, dark
beverage much favoured at
breakfast. [Catches sight of
headline.] Good heavens! Bad
news, everyone! A major
earthquake is expected!
coffee, milady?
Thank you, Carson.
Wheresofore do they say this
earthquake might occur, Robert?
LORD GRANTHAM: Let me see.
[Studies newspaper.] Oh no! I
cannot believe it!
CARSON: More coffee, Lady Mary?
LORD GRANTHAM: Dash it, Carson,
this is no time for coffee. Be so
good as to summon the
household staff at your earliest
convenience! [Household staff•
assemble with anxious looks on
their faces.]
LORD GRANTHAM: There is no cause
for alarm, but it says here that a
major earthquake is due-good
Lord!-"in the next few minutes."
Apparently it will occur "at
Downton Abbey, the historic
stately home of the Earl of
earthquake! At Downton!
The presumption of it!
THOMAS [under his breath]:
I like earthquakes.
O'BRIEN [under her breath]: Me, too.
CARSON: More coffee,
Mrs. Crawley?
MRS. CRAWLEY: I might never
have another chance to say this.
Before this earthquake kills us all,
I want everyone to know: I love
you, Carson, and I'm expecting
your baby!
LORD GRANTHAM [putting on
spectacles]: My apologies, everyone.
It appears I have misread! It
doesn't say "earthquake" at all. In
fact, it says "flower show."
THOMAS [under his breath]: Shame.
I hate flowers.
O'BRIEN [under her breath]:
Me, too.

Lost screenplay by Craig Brown
Vanity Fair, April 2013.
From Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn to Jack Nicholson and George Clooney, there has been no shortage of roguish leading men on-screen, one bad boy after another getting into all sorts of devilry while charming his way into audiences' hearts. But it's doubtful even Clark Gable could have stayed on the public's good side playing a part that required him, within the space of a single scene, to commit incest and then push a little boy out a high castle window, breaking his back. Not nice! But rising above such unpleasantness is the singular achievement of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the Danish actor who plays the callow nobleman Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones, which will be starting its third season on HBO right about ... now. As both "King slayer" and child crippler-as well as unwholesomely attentive brother to his queen-regent twin sister-Jaime qualifies as one of the show's foremost villains, but Coster-Waldau, whose looks suggest a Nordic riff on Javier Bardem, plays Jaime with such wicked, winking aplomb that we found ourselves not altogether disappointed when he escaped execution last season, literally keeping his handsome head. Fans will also have the opportunity to see how Coster-Waldau fits into the future in Oblivion, the Tom Cruise science-fiction epic that debuts in April and looks like a remake of Battlefield Earth but happily isn't.

Esquire by Bruce Handy, April 2013.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Real Jane Austen, by Paula Byrne

In this revisionist biography, Austen -"the unshockable young Jane" – more strongly resembles Emma Woodhouse than Fanny Price. She was opinionated and partial to crude humor. No material, from miscarriage to King James I's rumored homosexuality, was taboo. She was flippant about romance, and Byrne makes a strong case that earlier biographers misinterpreted as sincere letters lampooning heartbroken sentimentalism. Byrne emphasizes Austen's worldliness, particularly her awareness of the horrors of revolutionary France and of the West Indian slave trade. Byrne shirks chronological constraints, beginning each chapter with an object of special significance in the author's life - a shawl, a wooden lap desk-on the premise that much of Austen's fiction was "made real by a few carefully chosen things."

 The Real Jane Austen, by Paula Byrne


Monday, March 04, 2013

Frege’s Puzzle

In his early writings on language, the great logician Gottlob Frege held that the meaning of a name is its reference. For example, the meaning of the name "Mont Blanc" is the mountain itself. But, in later writings, Frege argued that two names may have the same reference, yet differ in meaning. He reasoned that if the meaning of a name is just its reference, and two names have the same reference, then it should make no difference to the meaning of a sentence which name occurs in it Since "Hesperus" and "Phosphorus" are both names of the planet Venus, (l) "Hesperus is Phosphorus" and (2) "Hesperus is Hesperus" should have the same meaning. But Frege observed that they do differ in meaning, since (1) expresses a significant astronomical discovery, while (2) is a triviality. The explanation of why they differ in meaning is Frege's Puzzle. Frege's solution is that the meaning of a name is not only its reference, but also its sense.  The sense of a name is a condition that picks out the individual (if there is one) that satisfies that condition as the name's reference. Frege says that "Hesperus" and "Phosphorus" have different senses that pick out the same reference. This, he says, explains how (l) can be informative, while (2) is a triviality. Much 20th-century philosophy of language involves a discussion of Frege's notion of sense.

Remember: If "Hesperus" and "Phosphorus" are just different names for the same thing-the planet Venus-how can it be that "Hesperus is Phosphorus" and "Hesperus is Hesperus" differ in meaning?

Additionally: Many philosophers find the notion of sense obscure. The logician Saul Kripke argued that proper names do not have senses at all. In his view the reference of a proper name is not determined by a sense but by a chain of uses of the name that begins with an act of naming. For example, you may use the name "Thales" to refer to a certain preSocratic philosopher even though you don't know anything about him, as long as you acquired the name from someone who used it to refer to Thales.

30-SecondPhilosophies by Barry Loewer

Sunday, March 03, 2013

1996 Perrymond hazing

The high-profile case for 1996 occurred at the University of Georgia, as a varsity football player was treated at the hospital for deep bruises and broken blood vessels in his buttocks. The athlete, Roderick Perrymond, told the police that three members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity paddled him about seventy times.[1]  Three men - two students and a former student – were officially charged with hazing and battery. The former student, Thomas Stevens, twenty-nine, was the chapter adviser. During the magistrate hearing, Perrymond and two other pledges described how they were paddled, or got “wood" as a form of punishment. When Perrymond was hit in the hamstrings, after telling members he normally received treatment for sore legs, an altercation ensued where Perrymond collapsed. He was taken to the hospital the next day.[2]  Three University of Georgia students who were members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity were suspended and eventually expelled from the University of Georgia after pleading guilty to hazing and battery charges.

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was found guilty by a university hearing board and suspended for five years, with the opportunity for reinstatement in two years.  Yet, the national organization planned to appeal the sanction, citing that there may have been some biases among members of the hearing panel.  The executive director, Lawrence Miller, indicated that he did not believe the national fraternity should be held responsible for the actions of its members.[3]

Walter M. Kimbrough. Black Greek101: The Culture, Customs, and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities. Rosemount Publishing, 2003.

[1] Duane Stanford and Doug Cummins, “Police Probe UGA Hazing,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12 September 1996, B1.
[2] Duane Stanford, “Frat Pledges Describe UGA Player’s Paddling,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 27 September 1996, B2.
[3] Rebecca McCarthy, “Suspension of UGA Fraternity To Be Appealed,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 30 October 1996, C6.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Russell’s Theory of Descriptions

Bertrand Russell claimed that the reference of an expression is its meaning. At first he thought that the meaning of a definite description, for example "the present king of France," was some particular object, in this case a particular king. But at that time France had no king, so Russell thought that the king must exist in some way, even though he couldn't be found in our world. Soon enough, Russell came to think that this was too much ontology to swallow and proposed his theory of descriptions to avoid this consequence, while holding onto the idea that reference is meaning. His idea is that "the present king of France" doesn't have a meaning on its own, but any sentence in which this phrase occurs can be translated into a sentence in which the phrase doesn't occur.

"The present king of France is bald" is translated into "There is one and only one present king of France, and he is bald." If this is correct, then the original sentence with the definite description is false. Russell said that the second sentence revealed the logical form of the first sentence. Since the phrase "the present king of France" doesn't occur in this sentence there is no need for a particular king to exist for the sentence to have meaning.

Remember: The logical form of the statement: "The present king of France is bald" is given by "There is one and only one king of France, and he is bald."

Additionally: Underlying Russell's theory is the idea that a sentence has a "logical form" that makes its meaning and its logic easily understood. This idea was very influential on subsequent philosophers and linguists, including Ludwig Wittgenstein and Noam Chomsky.

30-Second Philosophies by Barry Loewer